When women talk about going through “the change,” hot flashes and mood swings take most of the punches. What’s conveniently left out? The fact that menopause takes a serious toll on your skin. But just because your cycle’s a-changin’ doesn’t mean you have to say ta-ta to healthy, even skin.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s fertile period. It usually kicks off one year after your last period, between the ages of 45 and 55. As estrogen and progesterone levels drop, your skin can go through some sudden and surprising changes.
“The delicate hormonal balance goes out of whack,” explains New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. “Hormones don’t function independently—when there’s a drop in one, in this case estrogen, it can set off a chain reaction and cause all sorts of problems like acne, melasma and dry, itchy skin.”
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It’s hard to believe you have to deal with fine lines and pimples at this stage of your life. You can get a grip on the blemishes with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide acne treatments. Retinoids like Retin-A offer a one-two punch since they treat acne and reduce fine lines. If your main complexion concern is wrinkles, in addition to retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids and, possibly, vitamin C serums help build collagen for smoother, firmer skin.
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If parched skin is your problem, use a rich moisturizing cream. Also, make sure you’re getting enough fat in your diet, especially omega-3 fatty acids. It helps your skin produce essential cholesterol, which restores skin’s moisture. And don’t forget to slather on a broad-spectrum sunblock with SPF 30 or higher every day. Your skin becomes thinner with age and loses some of its natural SPF, making it particularly sensitive to sun damage and in need of complexion protection.
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